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Dr. Matthew Cavendish Explains How to Handle Emergencies

Are you suffering from a throbbing toothache, or have you chipped a tooth? Dental emergencies usually happen when we least expect them. The important thing to do is stay calm and assess how to handle your issue. Some dental emergencies will require immediate treatment, while others may be able to wait a day or two. As an emergency dental services provider in Phoenix, AZ, Dr. Matthew J. Cavendish, DDS, PLLC takes the time to answer questions about dental emergencies. Should you not find the answer to your specific dental emergency listed below, we urge you to reach out to us directly.

What’s a Dental Emergency? I’m Not Sure If I Should Call.

Many of our patients are worried about contacting us when faced with what they consider a dental emergency. You needn’t be. We would much rather you erred on the side of caution instead of ignoring something that ends up getting worse the longer you wait. Any time you’re in severe pain, or you experience swelling, bleeding, or discomfort, you should consider contacting our emergency dentist. Receiving prompt care is sometimes essential to save your tooth and even your life. Please call our Phoenix office right away if you experience any of the following:

  • Severe toothache or tooth sensitivity
  • Cracked or broken tooth
  • Cracked or broken denture
  • Chipped tooth or dental crown
  • Lacerations on your gums, tongue, or inside your mouth
  • Knocked-out tooth, filling, or crown
  • Loose tooth, filling, or crown

What If My Dental Emergency Happens After-Hours?

Our staff would be happy to evaluate your situation over the phone and make recommendations on what you should do. In most cases, we will be able to see you the same day you call. If your dental emergency happens outside of our office hours, we can provide instructions on how you can receive the care you need, whether it’s referring you to another dentist or your nearest hospital emergency room. In cases with extreme bleeding that won’t stop, it may be best to visit the hospital.

I Have a Sensitive Tooth. What Should I Do?

A sensitive tooth or a toothache can indicate a lot of dental issues. You could be dealing with a severe tooth infection requiring a root canal or tooth extraction, or you could have a dental abscess. An abscessed tooth may cause pimple-like swelling between your gums and teeth. In some cases, sensitivity may be caused by advanced gum disease or recession. We won’t know the exact cause of your tooth pain or sensitivity until we’re able to examine your mouth, sometimes using digital x-rays.

What’s the Best Way to Alleviate Jaw or Tooth Pain?

Many people deal with tooth pain by brushing and flossing to remove any irritating food fragments and plaque build-up around their teeth. This is usually followed by the use of an ice pack, a home remedy involving saltwater to gurgle, or an over-the-counter pain medication for toothache relief. If the swelling and pain do not seem to subside, you should seek an emergency dentist to address the cause of your tooth pain. In some cases, jaw pain accompanied by headaches, soreness, or stiffness may indicate a TMJ disorder requiring treatment. Swelling may indicate infection, and you may need an antibiotic to prevent the infection from spreading.

What Should I Do If I’ve Broken or Chipped a Tooth?

A broken or chipped tooth requires immediate dental care. The longer you leave your tooth unprotected, the more bacteria and decay may form around your tooth. This could lead to a cavity, periodontal (gum) disease, an infection, or worse over time. Even if you’re not in pain, you should contact our office right away. Time is usually of the essence when dealing with dental emergencies.

What Should I Do for a Knocked-Out Tooth?

The sooner you receive emergency dental care for a knocked-out tooth, the better your chances are of saving your tooth. If you can be seen within the first hour or so of losing your tooth, we may be able to splint your tooth back in its original position. You should be careful when handling the tooth. Hold it by its crown gently and rinse it with water. Don’t scrub it, as you’ll need to keep the root intact. If you’re able to put the root back into its socket, you may do so. If not, we suggest placing your tooth in a cup of water or milk until you can get to our office.

I Have an Object Caught Between My Teeth. What Should I Do?

If it’s a piece of food or a small object caught between your teeth, you may be able to remove it by flossing gently. Never use a sharp object such as a pin or a knife, as this could damage your teeth or gums. If the object doesn’t budge with dental floss, contact our office to schedule an appointment.

What Should I Do for a Loose Tooth Filling or Dental Crown?

If your filling or dental crown has already been knocked out, try to find it and hold it back in place. You may be able to purchase a temporary dental cement from your nearest pharmacy, which will work until you can see our emergency dentist. You could also try using sugar-free gum to cover your exposed cavity. However, it must be sugar-free to avoid additional decay and pain. Clove oil may reduce the sensitivity surrounding a loose filling or dental crown.

Should I Be Worried If My Child’s Baby Tooth Is Knocked Out?

Yes and no. While your child will lose all of his or her baby teeth eventually, losing one prematurely could cause complications. You should schedule an appointment with our dentist for an evaluation. Never try to reposition a baby tooth, as this could cause further developmental damage.

What Should I Do If I Think I Fractured My Jaw?

Symptoms of a broken jaw include severe pain, bruising, swelling, and bleeding in your mouth. You may also have trouble chewing, speaking, or opening or closing your mouth. A fractured jaw requires immediate medical care, as severe head injuries and facial traumas can be life-threatening. Sometimes, a jaw fracture may be covered under medical insurance and not dental insurance, so you should be aware of this before seeking emergency care. Anti-inflammatory medications, such as ibuprofen, may help reduce the swelling and dull the pain. It may be necessary to wire your jaw shut during the healing process.

Are Dental Emergencies Covered by Dental Insurance?

This will vary according to your dental insurance provider and plan. For your convenience, our office accepts many leading insurance providers, including Cigna, Aetna, and Delta Dental. You shouldn’t let the cost of treatment prevent you from seeking urgent care. We also offer no-interest and low-interest financing options through CareCredit to make emergency dental care more affordable. If you’re concerned about the costs of treatment, please reach out to our office or your insurance provider.

Why Should I Seek Immediate Dental Care in an Emergency?

Simply stated, most dental emergencies do not get better with time. We understand many people experience dental anxiety, and as such, delay their treatment. Today’s technology has made many dental treatments, including root canals and tooth extractions, more comfortable than ever before. Dr. Cavendish offers many sedation options to relax patients and melt away any anxieties. We also take the time to answer questions and address concerns, so patients don’t have to fear the unknown. The sooner you come see us with your dental emergency, the sooner we can help you, and you’ll start to feel better. We treat our patients like family here, so you can check your dental fears for good at the door. If you need an emergency dentist in the Phoenix area, contact our office for prompt dental care!